Cary Marks is perhaps best known as a model car guy in and around Wichita. He has been a familiar face at swap meets and model builders events for about as long as anyone can remember.
His grandfather bought him an AMT 1958 Ford Fairlane kit for $1.19 and he still has it in his extensive collection.
But his passion isn't limited to small-scale automobiles. He has owned several notable collector cars over the years, but none more valuable to him than the Vintage Burgundy 1996 Mustang coupe that he bought back in 1971 and then made the mistake of letting go 24 years later.
"I sold over 1,000 model kits in 1995... the same time I sold the Mustang," he recalled. "It made a pretty good down payment on the new house we were building," he said.
"I had worked part-time at the service station at 13th and St. Paul... and had serviced that car all along," Marks said.
When the owner of the Mustang passed away, his widow asked Marks if he would be interested in buying the car, since it was equipped with a manual transmission and she didn't like driving it, he said.
The Mustang had only 35,000 miles on it at that point and, after checking with his banker, Marks took the plunge. "It was a V-8, radio, 3-speed car, and I was still kind of a young hot rodder at that point," he said.
"So I put a set of Cragars and duals on it. I found a 4-speed and a console to put in it, along with traction bars. I planned to fix it up... but it ended up under cover for quite a while," he said.
The move to the new house he and his wife were building involved going from a 3 1/2 car garage to a garage with only two bays.
"So something had to go," Marks said. "I always kind of regretted that I let that one get away. It was always in the back of my mind that someday I might be able to get it back."
That thought grew even more intense after his grandson, Brandon Blehm, bought a Vintage Burgundy 1966 Mustang of his own.
"I always wanted a Mustang, and when I saw this one and it was like his, I wanted it even more," said Blehm, who found his 6-cylinder, 3-speed Mustang in nearby Maize.
"When I got mine, all we heard was, 'I wish I had mine back, I wish I had mine back,' " Blehm chuckled.
As luck would have it, Marks would get his wish.
"I had a chance to buy it back in April of this year," Marks said. The deal included a pair of OEM front fenders he had purchased way-back-when, just in case the front end of the car was ever damaged. Those fenders and a fresh door skin will go on the car to freshen it up.
The black interior is in great shape and the Rally Pac tachometer/clock package that Marks installed is still in good shape. The car now has just over 58,000 original miles on it.
"Basically, I gave it a good scrubbing, a thorough cleaning and buffed it up when I got it back," Marks said. "I tuned it up and rebuilt the carb. It needs axle seals and pinion seals.
"But for now, I told my wife, I'm going to drive it and enjoy it. I'm not going to try to keep the miles down on it. I was the second owner and now I'm the fourth owner. That was one of the lucky moments of my life. She's mine again... and she's not going anywhere this time," he said.